‘Military Grade’ is Hardly More Than a Marketing Term

Two soldiers with a computer

In early 2020 I wrote an article explaining what it means when companies use phrases like “military grade encryption” or “bank level security.” I wrote “they might seem like marketing buzzwords” but I should’ve said, “they totally are buzzwords.” This usage isn’t limited to discussions around encryption. Mel Magazine says it refers to MIL-STD-810 and it’s not the tough, high quality standard we think it is.

Commercially, Hollings adds, “there’s no governing body that says, ‘Okay, you met the requirements for MIL-STD-A-10.’ So effectively anyone can say their product is military standard.” This obviously isn’t great for civilian consumers, while ex-military like Hollings just scoff at the designation […]

Check It Out: ‘Military Grade’ is Hardly More Than a Marketing Term

6 thoughts on “‘Military Grade’ is Hardly More Than a Marketing Term

  • The military accepts documents like MIL-STD-810 as part of their qualification process by companies selling hardware to the military. 810 is primarily a hardware environmental test description of how a supplier can demonstrate that their product will survive in the various environments that it will experience. Saying that something is military grade is just hogwash. Saying something is qualified to MIl-STD-810 is too general to have meaning, as there are many variations in requirements in 810 to cover the various environments in 810. If a company has a product qualified to 810 and provides more details about what tests they ran and passed, then it’s likely to be a robust product in those environments. 810 isn’t the only Mil spec or std that is used to demonstrate the robustness of a design. There are many docs, and commercial producers would never design and test to the Mil docs for a product being sold for the commercial market against other competitors with similar products. It’s a very expensive process. Commercial products have always been “let the buyer beware” designs. Some companies will field absolute crap-not necessarily on purpose – they just don’t hire the best people to design and build it and don’t have internal processes and training in place to produce anything but crap hardware. As John Arbuckle said in 1903: “you get what you pay for” (from a coffee commercial a long time ago).

  • My salsas are weapons grade. Hazmat comes every month to take samples back to their lab for taste tests.

    Anyway I don’t know if the MILSPEC specs are generally available, but I remember the ruggedness of some of the things I used while in the Navy. Other things were pretty much off-of-the-shelf.

      1. I believe, and correct me if you find out otherwise, that MilSpec just means it meets military standards. So yes their standards for ammunition and body armour are likely tighter than civilian grades of the same items. However there are military specifications for anything they buy. So there are MilSpec chocolate chip cookies and MilSpec Kleenex and I doubt those differ much from civilian grades. There is an apocryphal story that M&Ms started out as MilSpec Candy Type M.

      2. Equipment that can take extremes of temperature, shockwaves, and such. Check out the story of the warship office chair, I will try and find a link and post it here.

        From what I understand the M&M candy was requested so that a soldier could get chocolate fix without it melting in their hands.

  • I loved it when Ford said in one of their commercials that the F-150 was “made of military grade metal”. Oh you mean like “Mild Steel”. Because the military uses that.

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